Western Conference Picks: Lakers look to end 5-game skid against Spurs

San Antonio Spurs at Los Angeles Lakers, Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
Tuesday, April 12, 2011, 10:30 pm Eastern, TV:  TNT
Opening Line: Lakers -5
Current Line: Lakers -7
Opening Total: 194
Current Total: 194
Money Line: Lakers -300 / Spurs +250

Lakers Spurs NBA Game Preview
Lakers star Kobe Bryant was disappointed with his team's defensive effort against the Thunder.

The Los Angeles Lakers (55-25) will look to end a season-high five-game losing streak and avoid falling one game behind Dallas on Tuesday when they host the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs (61-19).  Oklahoma City also pulled within a half-game of the Lakers (-7) thanks to a five-game winning streak but would lose a potential tiebreaker since LA won the regular-season series.

The Spurs also have something to play for since Chicago is only one game behind them for the best overall record in the NBA and homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs.  They have won three of the last four meetings with the two-time defending league champions and can capture the regular-season series with another victory at the Staples Center.

Los Angeles routed San Antonio on the road 99-83 on March 6 as part of an impressive 17-1 run following the All-Star break.  The Lakers seemed like they were on course to overtake the Spurs for the top seed in the Western Conference before things started to fall apart after April 1.   They have been favored in 16 straight games since San Antonio was listed as a 3-point favorite in the last meeting, going 6-10 against the spread during that stretch.

The Spurs are riding a four-game winning streak into LA after losing a season-high six in a row, which remains the biggest skid in Tim Duncan’s career.  Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili all missed some time during the losing streak but have since returned to help the team close out the regular season.

“We’ve played this well all season long – we’d love to finish at the top of the NBA,” Duncan said. “We’re going to try to do the best of managing minutes, winning games and all that stuff.”

The Lakers may not be too concerned about where they are seeded, but they surely do not want to risk falling all the way from second to fourth in the West.  A win here would guarantee that they do not slip that far and obviously a much better chance to win their third consecutive league title.  They will need to play much better defensively though after losing to the Thunder 120-106 at home on Sunday.

LA had given up 95 points or less in the previous seven games.  The UNDER is 5-1 in the team’s last six games and has cashed in the past seven meetings between the teams.  The OVER is 9-1 in San Antonio’s last 10 games overall.

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